Bogus Best Of’s…And Exceptions

January 5th, 2010 by Max Allan Collins

I despise year’s best lists. They are completely arbitrary and invalid, as the critics cannot have read everything out there. There are exceptions to this rule, however — those exceptions are the lists that include work by me.

Quarry in the Middle Bookgasm honcho Rod Lott, who chose THE FIRST QUARRY as last year’s best novel (regardless of genre) has honored QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE as one of his top ten for 2009.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago, Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm did a nifty retrospective review of my 1984 Mallory novel, KILL YOUR DARLINGS. He calls it the second in the series, but it’s the third (THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF and NO CURE FOR DEATH precede it, though those two were written in reverse order).

Jeff Pierce at January Magazine has an extended list of Best Crime and Mystery novels of 2009, and QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE made the cut.

The Wildsound site has a top ten comic-book films of the decade, and ROAD TO PERDITION is the top choice.

My band Crusin’ played New Year’s Eve at the West Liberty (Iowa) Country Club, and (following a couple of under-attended gigs) we had the pleasure of a packed house and a very appreciative crowd. Actually, we killed. I had almost forgotten the sheer joy of that kind of response, which was made sweeter by the crowd including a number of people I went to school with. We played four hours with minimal breaks, and my bandmates — Chuck Bunn, Steve Kundel and Jim Van Winkle — were in top form. I admit it took me two days to recover from the event, and I look back on when we would play four or even five nights consecutively (sometimes five-hour gigs) and am amazed at what I used to be physically capable of. On the other hand, not many people have been out there playing rock ‘n’ roll in essentially the same band since 1966. By the way, we still have available a handful of the DAYBREAKERS aka CRUSIN’ — THE HALL OF FAME COLLECTION CD’s signed by all five of the original members. [See at the bottom of this post — Nate]

We also have available, in better quantity but also limited, the new SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT live CD. (SEDUCTION is the “all-star comic-book band” that plays occasionally, usually at comic book conventions, and features Bill Mumy, Miguel Ferrer, John “Chris” Christensen, Steve Leialoha, and me.) The notorious cut “Pussy Whipped” from our ‘90s CD, GOLDEN AGE, became a hit at a very popular Iowa radio station in the ‘90s because of my participation (and because it’s a very funny and outrageous tune). It became a kind of shirt-tail hit for Crusin’, because the popularity was such that we had to begin performing it live. We even performed it live on that radio station (KFMH) several times for legendary DJ Steve Bridges (so popular in his prime that he appeared on THE TOMORROW SHOW with Tom Snyder). You can hear a live version of this rude tune on the new SEDUCTION live CD, but I mention this because we have begun to play it at Crusin’ gigs again. Though we are primarily an oldies band, we do pepper in originals from the band’s long (if sporadic) recording history. In SEDUCTION, Miguel Ferrer sings this sad tale of a man who informs us, “I love my wife — she tells me so,” but I take on those duties for the Crusin’ performances. So far nobody has complained about the song’s lyrical content (shall we say), but a lot of people have stared in grinning amazement. When we played at the Brew (in Muscatine), whose audience is younger than our usual demographic, a guy in his late twenties or early thirties came running up after and said, “I remember hearing that on the radio as a kid! I love that song!”

I had a very interesting and fun e-mail exchange with Peter Biegen, the talented co-writer of THE LAST LULLABY. One of the most interesting things is that we’d never had contact before, and we compared notes as to our respective experiences and discovered things about each other’s contributions that we hadn’t known. I was unaware that Peter had written not one but two drafts after my two, for example, and he wasn’t aware of the extent of my notes and conversations with director Jeffrey Goodman at the start of production, which mostly resulted in some significant cuts. As we exchanged our thoughts about the film, it became obvious that we would have collaborated well together, which is one of the unfortunate things about screenwriting — often writers brought in to do another draft are segregated from the original writer (for lots of reasons, but in my opinion few of them valid). It became clear that LULLABY (a film we are both proud of, and like very much) would have been even better had we put our heads together (independently, we both had the same idea for the final violent confrontation — only to have that identical idea passed on by the director). Sometimes Peter’s contributions have been given short shrift because LULLABY is based on my short story and the Quarry character, and I wrote the original two drafts (which became the novel THE LAST QUARRY); plus ROAD TO PERDITION is a marketable thing to emphasize. Let me go on record here to say that he did a terrific job on our co-written screenplay, and in particular made the romance at the heart of the beast more effective.

I continue to work on the third Mike Hammer novel, KISS HER GOODBYE, which is very much its own book, like neither GOLIATH BONE nor the upcoming BIG BANG. This is the lost Mike Hammer ‘70s novel and represents the ten year period where Mickey published no Hammer novels, so it’s an interesting voice and snapshot of the ultimate private eye at a different age and in a different context.

Happy Twenty Ten to all of you. A lot of exciting projects are in the pipeline, and I’ll report to you here every Tuesday morning.


Seduction of the Innocent: Live @ Comic-Con 1999

Daybreakers Hall of Fame Collection

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “Bogus Best Of’s…And Exceptions”

  1. mike doran says:

    Apologies in advance for this off-topic:

    I was linking to the other items you mentioned in your blog, and one of them led me to The Rap Sheet, a site I’ve been visiting regularly ever since I was given this demon machine by my employers.

    At least I had been visiting it up to about a month ago. That’s when, for reasons unknown, I started getting “Not Responding” and that damned hourglass icon every time I linked to the Rap Sheet. The site comes up, but nothing happens – I can’t scroll, I can’t link back, nothing. I can’t do anything.

    This does not happen on any other site I regularly visit.

    And no, my company isn’t blocking the site.

    So, Jeff Pierce, if you should happen to see this message in Max’s bottle, I really miss you guys. What the Oedipus Rex am I doing wrong?

    And if anybody else is having this problem, I’ll accept any suggestions.

    Again, my thanks and apologies.

  2. Mike, I think it’s just — then click on Crime, then at Crime, click on the Rap Sheet logo.

  3. Nathan Collins says:

    Just to make sure: The Rap Sheet is at — the link works for me. If it’s not loading it’s probably a problem at your end. Are you sure your company isn’t blocking Blogspot?

  4. mike doran says:

    Progress (or Lack Thereof) Report:

    Max: I followed your instructions to the letter.
    January Magazine – came in ok, scrolled beautifully.
    Clicked to Crime – came in ok, scrolled well.
    Clicked to the Rap Sheet – came in, then the Dreaded Hourglass.

    Nate: I clicked on your direct link.
    The Rap Sheet came up – followed by the Dreaded Hourglass.
    My company is not blocking Blogspot. If it were, I would have gotten a full-screen size banner telling me so.
    And incidentally, a number of my regular stops on the net are part of the Blogspot group.

    Once again – this is ONLY happening to me with The Rap Sheet.

    I am slowly coming to the belief that this Infernal Device was invented for the sole purpose of making a misery of my waning years. Pity, too – I really miss Jeff and all the gang at the Sheet.

    I appreciate the proffer of help from Collins & Son. Thanx and a tip of Hatlo’s Hat.